by Laurel M. Silber, Psy.D.
PSPP (Philadelphia Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology) created PCPE. In the early 1990’s PSPP, like many Local Chapters of APA’s Division 39, were exploring the option of creating their own psychoanalytic training institutes. There was some disappointment in the existing training institutes and there was discrimination against psychologists toward acceptance for training. Simultaneously there was a lawsuit brought by five psychologists toward the American for restraint of trade. There was an interest in establishing training for psychologists, but how? What model? What would our dream training institute look like?
In 1991, I was president of PSPP and we decided to establish a committee to explore these questions. Barbara Goldsmith was appointed chair of that committee. PSPP executed a survey to reach the membership and asked these questions; collecting the data. We ran two programs, the first invited other local chapters (Boston, Michigan and New York) who had embarked on a similar mission and asked them to present their experiences, the model they created and invited their suggestions for us. We held a second program inviting the local existing training institutes to send a representative willing to describe their training to us. After gathering all this information (what was happening on a national scale and than locally) we assessed there was a need. The committee was launched with a large and important mission to put this together. When they decided there was enough interest and the goal was to establish a training institute they had to leave PSPP. Division 39’s Bylaws (for which PSPP is beholden to as a local chapter) prohibit training under its auspices. The committee folded and a freestanding organization, PCPE was born. To help launch PCPE, PSPP sponsored a very successful day long workshop and party with Daniel Stern, MD to talk about his new book, The Motherhood Constellation. All the profits were to go to PCPE to help it get started.
PCPE volunteered many long hours, creating many subcommittees and hashed out a training program. In the meantime, changes within the national psychoanalytic community were occurring, the lawsuit was settled, and admission to psychologists opened up. Changes in Philadelphia’s psychoanalytic community were also occurring. New training options were becoming available.
As it turned out the job of coordinating the many disparate views into one training institute was not easily achieved. With all the differences of opinion about how to go forward, a consultant was hired to facilitate a day long retreat with the goal being to culminate in a vote on a plan for PCPE. The decision was not to go forward with training, rather to be a center of educational discourse. The Center would continue to have in-depth seminars and courses that bring our local community together to learn from and with each other about the work. The extended format would allow presenters to teach, however, not necessarily to lecture. The presenter is asked months in advance to send the references of articles or books relevant to the topic and their work and a group would come together for three weeks to read and discuss the work. The presenter steps into a group that has done some process with the material and each other and interacts with presenter over the subject for the course of the day long workshop. Many presenters have commented that they love the reading seminar format and enjoy teaching in the way we have constructed it. Some interested people call wanting to attend the workshop and not the three working sessions prior to the workshop and they are turned down. The courses and seminars have the two-fold purpose of education, but also in building the psychoanalytic community through sharing and working together.
The reason for PCPE being separate from PSPP evaporated when the outcome of the mission did not culminate in a training institute. The question routinely surfaced does PCPE have a reason to exist? Should we remain autonomous? Should PCPE be folded back into our “parent organization”? The decision has always been to remain autonomous and enjoy an on-going liaison with PSPP. PCPE’s board is made up of several past presidents of PSPP. PCPE has no membership, we were not elected, and we have no dues. The overarching agenda has been to try and think together about what makes good learning and create new programs to stay connected with ideas and each other. PCPE continues to evolve and adjust to the changing needs of a vibrant psychoanalytic community.
In January, 2007, a new psychoanalytic training program opened under the aegis of PCPE. This program, the Institute for Relational Psychoanalysis of Philadelphia (IRPP) is “under construction”, but already has a cohort of nine candidates that have completed one year of coursework. IRPP is being shaped to meet the standards of the Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education (ACPE: www.acpe.org) and members of the Stephen Mitchell Center in New York City serve as faculty, supervisors, and consultants. Senior local analysts also serve as faculty in the program.
In the first effort to create a training institute the process became encumbered with problems, one being to try to have a comparative discourse across the different psychoanalytic schools of thought. While IRPP aims to give a respectful exposure to other psychoanalytic theories, it is primarily Relational While IRPP’s curriculum is organized dialectically, it is primarily Relational in its orientation and therefore fulfills a need in the local psychoanalytic community. PCPE becomes enlarged in its mission with psychoanalytic discussion available at many levels. While psychoanalytic training has had a fractionated history (nationally and locally), PSPP-PCPE-IRPP is finding that they are more than the sum of the parts. Each organization is enhancing the existence of the other.
Current PCPE Board of Directors:
Rachel Kabasakalian McKay (President), David Ramirez, Ph.D.(Past-President/Treasurer), Rebecca Ergas, Ph.D. (Secretary)
David Mark, Ph.D., Jane Widseth,Ph.D., Laurel Silber,Psy.D., Ph.D., Audrey Jarmas, Ph.D., Jay Moses, Ph.D., and Barbara Zimmerman-Slovak, Ph.D. (Board Members)
David Mark, Ph.D. (Director), Noelle Burton, Psy.D. (Co-Director), Rachel Kabasakalian McKay, Ph.D. and Dennis Debiak, Psy.D. (Graduates and Founding Members).